Derek Ingram Playing Pivotal Role as Canada’s National Golf Head Coach

Derek Ingram
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Derek Ingram is not afraid to get sentimental, particularly when talking about his students. Canada’s National Golf Head Coach fondly remembers when current PGA Tour professional, Mackenzie Hughes, won his first tournament on the Web.com Tour. Ingram was in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games, witnessing golf’s historic return to the Olympics.

In the heart of America’s mid-west in Springfield, Missouri, Dundas, Ontario native Mackenzie Hughes recorded four rounds in the ’60s, including a final round 66, to win his first professional golf tournament by one stroke. After experiencing the exhilarating adrenaline rush of winning, Hughes placed a call to his coach.

“It was just before Andre de Grasse won the silver medal when Mackenzie called me saying he won,” stated Ingram. “I became quite emotional. To forge such a special bond with Mackenzie and to see him finally win after climbing through the junior and amateur tours, it’s a rewarding feeling.”

Derek Ingram Relies on Daily Routine to Generate Success in Coaching

There isn’t a day that goes by where Derek Ingram isn’t thinking, teaching, talking or playing golf. The love affair with the game started in his youthful days growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“My Dad would play golf a lot with his brother, my uncle” recalls Ingram, the youngest of four boys. “I would try to emulate my brothers when playing the game.”

Derek’s passion for golf cannot be contained. But it is his burning drive for competition that allows him to get maximized potential out of his players. Having the experience as a former player on the Canadian Tour, Ingram affirms, brings a wealth of knowledge and skills that can be transferred to the future Canadian golf hopefuls.

“In order to be a teacher and a coach, you have to be a good player, and always competing. By coaching players while I was on the Canadian Tour, it drove my competitive spirit that still exists to this day.”

The day in the life of Canada’s National Head Coach is repetitive and consistent. Just how Ingram likes it. The unwavering regimen allows Ingram to incorporate a multifaceted coaching approach that encompasses a variety of areas in the game of golf. The days are long, but the rewards are undeniable.

Ingram focuses on the technical aspects of the game; from short game to maximizing swing production. Then, an emphasis on schedule planning and bringing in sports psychologists for his players. Through all of this, Ingram emphasizes one constant reality: communication.

“Communication is critical with your players,” states Ingram. “I love to have contact with my players, morning, afternoon and evening. Just being there for them, every step along the process, is crucial in their development.”

Mental Aspect Foundational in Ingram’s Coaching

While playing in Manitoba, Ingram would win 20 tournaments. The economical golf courses scattered across Derek’s hometown allowed him to play lots of golf, learning the delicate balances of technique and instincts that would later apply to coaching.

“Being a complete player, that can be both technical and instinctual, allows me to rely on different scenarios for my students,” says Ingram. “I know what these young guys are going through and what it takes to win.”

Ingram has co-authored two books, focusing on the mental aspects of golf. So often, golfers have the victory within their grasp, only to lose it with a mental lapse in judgment. Derek’s students know who to go to when they have questions about maintaining mental toughness, in order to conquer the demanding adversity on a golf course.

“From age 19, I read books on developing mental fortitude in other sports,” states Ingram. “It’s only you and your golf ball; it can be lonely on the golf course. My players know they can come to me for advice on how to stay focused on the task at hand and to not let your mind wander.”

Ingram Relies on Building Relationships, Honesty With Players

The nucleus that Ingram has established with his prodigies is one built around mutual trust and belief in one another. Over the years, Ingram has molded golfers that are institutionalized in Canadian golf lore. Golfers like Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes, bought into the vision that Ingram predicated in laying the foundation for Canadian golf success.

“These guys are competitive,” Ingram states. “They are hungry to win.”

But Ingram knows the faint chances in making it to the pros and sustaining success. Given the parity entrenched in the PGA Tour, maintaining prosperity is often a distant dream for golfers. Ingram believes that having an honest relationship with his players results in easier conversations when discussing the realistic chances of a golfer becoming pro.

“In golf, The numbers will cut you. You can’t hang on for dear life. Having an honest relationship with my players to tell them the truth and to establish an action plan to get better is so important.”

Ingram Points to Mike Weir’s Masters Victory as a Pivotal Moment in Canadian Golf History

After being a two-time Manitoba PGA Player of the Year award winner, Ingram’s accolades would continue as the Assistant Coach to Canada’s National Golf Team. 2003 would be a banner year for Derek, securing his first PGA of Canada Teacher of the Year award. But Ingram believes that this would not have been possible if Canada hadn’t experienced a meteoric rise in golf popularity due to Mike Weir and his Masters victory.

In April 2003, Coach Ingram was accompanying a young Nick Taylor and the rest of the Canadian amateurs to the World Golf Juniors in Puerto Rico. Simultaneously, Mike Weir would be teeing it up at Augusta National for the yearly Masters tournament. Weir was competing in an era where Tiger Woods was cementing his exclamation mark onto golf history. Where the accomplishments of Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson made it extremely difficult for the field to snag a tournament win.

But Weir would make Canadian golfing history that April, becoming the first golfer from Canada to win a major championship, let alone a Green Jacket. His playoff victory over Len Mattiace simmers in Ingram’s mind, as he and his students watched the Sunday drama unfold in the tropical, Puerto Rican clubhouse.

“How powerful a moment that was for me and our guys,” remembers Ingram. “The youngsters looked at each other and exclaimed, “I can be like Mike Weir.”

Ingram’s Role Within Golf Canada Flourishes

Canada had its golfing hero. One who had to grind his way to earn the accolades he achieved. That same year, Weir would have the lowest scoring average in the four major championships. Young Canadians bought into the belief that they can become a professional golfer, just like Mike Weir. While Weir did not win another major championship, Ingram believes that his Masters victory will never be forgotten.

“You can pinpoint that moment as the reason why Golf in Canada has experienced accelerated growth the past decade,” states Ingram. “Canada had a golfing superstar when arguably one of the greatest golfers of all time was still playing.”

Once considered a part-time job, Ingram’s position flourished into a full-time role. As Golf Canada began to grow its men’s and women’s national teams, the players demanded more time and expertise from their focal point coach. After spending a decade as an assistant coach, Ingram became the head coach for the Women’s national golf team. Names such as Ann-Catharine Tanguay and Brittany Marchand were taken under Ingram’s leadership, putting them on the path to emulate similar success such as Lorie Kane or Jocelyne Bourassa. The skills Derek learned coaching men’s golf could easily be transferred to the women’s game.

“The golf ball doesn’t know your gender,” states Ingram. “These young women are such great athletes and can hit the ball so far. We experienced a ton of success in a short amount of time. I was thrilled to have that opportunity.”

Ingram Has Faith in PGA Tour Canadian Contingent

After being the Women’s Head Coach for two years, Ingram transitioned to his current role within Golf Canada. He now serves as the national amateur and Young Pro Teams head coach. Not only does he get to mold the future prospects of Canadian golf, but he is currently coaching Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes. Both were once members of Team Canada, and for Mackenzie, a champion on both the Web.com and PGA Tours. Conners’ best finish came at the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship, finishing runner-up to Cameron Champ.

Hughes and Conners are a part of a strong contingent of PGA Tour Canadian golfers. This includes former Valspar champion Adam Hadwin, Nick Taylor, Ben Silverman, Roger Sloan, and Adam Svensson. All of these golfers have tremendous potential, showcasing glimpses of greatness. But all of them have not been able to break through to win tournaments. While their talent level is undeniable, the lack of consistency atop leader boards of tournaments reaffirms the depth of the playing field.

But Ingram believes, it’s only a matter of time before their hard work in practice turns into success on the course. Most recently, Mackenzie Hughes posted his best tournament result of the season, a runner-up finish in Punta Cana. When covering tournaments with the Canadians present, the contingent is always together. An intense brotherhood, says Ingram, that pushes each other to be better. The concept of being a team, stressed constantly by Ingram, comes naturally to the Canadian golfers.

“There is a Team Canada feel,” says Ingram. “They go to dinner together and push each other to be better. If they don’t win they want their compatriot to win. Golf is a 15-20 year sport. They are getting better; it’s just a matter of having more time to improve.”

Derek Ingram is Living the Dream

According to Ingram, a large reason why there is a high quantity of Canadian golfers on the PGA Tour is because of the growth of Golf Canada. Under the leadership of Golf Canada CEO Laurence Appelbaum, the game has experienced accelerated growth, both on the course and in the form of business partnerships. Golf Canada’s National Head Coach strongly believes that through these strategic collaborations, golf’s governing body in Canada can only become more influential.

“I think Golf Canada is doing a wonderful job pushing the envelope,” states Ingram. “By using Intel from other organizations such as Sport Canada and the Olympics, it is helping to grow the game of golf across Canada.”

While the joys of shaping and mentoring young athletes motivate Coach Ingram every day, the job has its sacrifices. A devoted family man, Derek is married with two young boys. Raising his family in Winnipeg means that Ingram is often away from home for extended periods of time. Like hitting a blind shot from the rough, it’s a challenge that Golf Canada’s coaching icon had to overcome.

“There is nothing more valuable than family. Never mind the results of my team, my number one goal is to be a superstar Dad away from home to my two kids and when I’m at home, I want to be a hero.”

With grass growing and flowers blossoming, another season of golf in Canada is about to commence. The storylines are tremendous; the RBC Canadian Open moving to the week before the U.S. Open in June. Canadian Brooke Henderson looking to defend her CP Women’s Open title at Magna Golf Club. And this week, Brigette Thibault will become the first Canadian woman to play Augusta National Golf Club, for the inaugural Augusta Women’s Amateur competition.

For Derek Ingram, the sun rises each morning knowing he is fulfilling his lifelong passion. Each new student brings a new opportunity for Coach Ingram to positively impact a golfer’s life.

No one is more appreciative and grateful than Derek Ingram for the opportunities he has been given to transform the golf landscape in Canada.